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"Prolix Memory"

Poem

About this poem

Juana Inés de la Cruz

B. Limosneros, trans.

Prolija Memoria,

permite siquiera

que por un instante

sosieguen mis penas.

  Afloja el cordel

que, según aprietas,

temo que reviente

si das otra vuelta.

  Mira que si acabas

con mi vida, cesa

de tus tiranías

la triste materia.

  No piedad te pido

en aquestas treguas,

sino que otra especie

de tormento sea.

  Ni de mí presumas

que soy tan grosera

que la vida sólo

para vivir quiera.

  Bien sabes tú, como

quien está tan cerca,

que sólo la estimo

por sentir con ella,

  y porque, perdida,

perder era fuerza

un amor que pide

duración eterna.

  Por eso te pido

que tengas clemencia,

no porque yo viva,

sí porque él no muera.

  ¿No basta cuán vivas

se me representan

de mi ausente Cielo

las divinas prendas?

  ¿No basta acordarme

sus caricias tiernas,

sus dulces palabras,

sus nobles finezas?

  ¿Y no basta que,

industriosa, crezcas

con pasadas glorias

mis presentes penas...?

Prolix memory,

grant me surcease,

one instant's forgetting,

let these sufferings ease.

       Slacken the bonds

of all that is past,

lest one more twist

force them to snap.

       For surely you must see

how an end to my days

only liberates me

from all your tyrannies.

       It is not pity I seek

in begging a respite,

but some other species

of torment in its stead.

       Can you think me

so brutal a beast

as to ask no more of life

than not to cease?

       You know too well,

as one to me so near,

that what I hold most dear

is what this life gives me to feel;

       and know too that forfeiting this,

I surrender all hope

of that love, that bliss

that for all eternity lives.

       For this alone, your clemency

do I kneel to implore:

not so that I survive -

but that hope's lease not expire.

       Is it not enough

that so long as you abide,

my absent Heaven's every trait

returns to flood my mind?

       A torrent of reminiscences -

her noble finesses,

her tongue's sweet cadences,

her tenderness...

       And is it not enough,

prolix memory ... industrious bee,

that you extract from glory's seasons past

the present's draughts of agony...?

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